Where portfolio students talk.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Great Debate

The great Leo Burnett once warned us that advertising is not a science. Bernbach had been quoted as refering to advertising as art.

But is it? Is advertising art? Do remember, science is about solving problems (based upon agreement from the scientific community) wheras art doesn't nec. set out to solve a problem. Aren't we trying to solve problems?

I commonly reffer to advertising as business. A creative business that may employ artistic elements, but is not art. Your thoughts.


americanmidwestsamurai said...

I would more aptly call it a craft.

R. Falch said...

I certainly think some advertising qualifies as art, but a lot of it is just annoying and self-serving.

A craft it is.

Brock Johnson said...

I've never given copy to a "craft" director before.

I don't think that just because advertising solves problems, that it isn't art. What about architecture? Bridges?

No, not ALL advertising is art, so I suppose it depends on the individual doing the advertising and their vision and focus.

A craft is defined as an art so at this point its semantics.

americanmidwestsamurai said...

Brock I think there's a difference between having art in an ad--and something being art.

Sure, semantics...but ultimatley everything boils down to semantics. For the sake of conversation, I think we can come to some common agreement on intent.

Commercial intent--that is to sell a brand, selling a manifestation of an idea rather than the idea itself, to me disqualifies advertising as being art.

Andy said...

I'm with Arthur. Advertising, at its core, is selling stuff. And if it looks artsy and nice, then fine. But the intent in creating it wasn't to create a work of art. It was to make someone buy something.

And, I don't know about you, Brock, but I work with this one Craft Director and they're amazing. You've got to try them.

graphicmind said...

well, I'm glad I found that hot glue gun on sale, if it's all about crafts.

But art and advertising can be on the same line, especially with commercial art, where the point of making a piece of work is to make it sell. Any contract work with an illustrator or any fine artist could be argued that the art within it or on it is made to push sales of any product.

Personally, I think the tiering of art and advertising is made to justify how someone feels about the intent or message of the piece. Like the suggestion that fine art is truly earnest, where as advertising has an alterior motive. Like we all know people who go into a field of work for the wrong reasons, and there'll be alot of those people in any field. But for those who are earnest, in the end, it is all about making a connection with the audience, isn't it?

Brock Johnson said...

Categorically, I don't think you can say advertising isn't art. Just like I dont think you can say that categorically all advertising IS art. So, my argument is that it CAN be.

Arthur, as far as commercial intent- I think that artists creating "art" in the form of paintings, drawings, music or otherwise have commercial intent as well. It's art, but its still their livelihood as well. Art isnt always purely benevolent or "organic." Musicians and bands are artists and brands as well, as there is commercial intent in the production of songs/albums. So because, they tailor certain aspects of their music to an audience to sell records, they then forfeit their label as an artist? Therefore, I don't think that commercial intent, in itself, is enough to discredit advertising as art.

Andy, if your intent IS to create art with advertising does that change your argument?

There were a lot of artists in the Renaissance that were selling ideas with their work. Religious, and political messages were standard in these pieces of art. Many of these pieces were commissioned by the King. So, whats the difference between King Henry VIII in a painting or the Democratic Party in a painting for an ad campaign? Just because they're wasnt a logo or tagline doesn't mean these weren't advertising certain ideologies, which in turn represented something more specific. A country, a King, a Religion. A brand.

Andy Warhol's Campbells soup can, Red Bull's Art of the can campaign, murals for the Boys and Girls club. The message of these is ultimately to buy or support the brand but still I'd argue these are examples of art.

Isn't art just advertising anyway?

americanmidwestsamurai said...

I'll still point to the fine difference between having art in something, and something being art as two different things.

If I take famous Ansel Adams photograph, or the the Sistine chapel and put it on a magazine page and plop a Nike logo on it, I don't think thats art anymore.

Idea = brand = sell = advertising.
Idea = sell = art.

The key word in your Henry VII analogy is "comissioned." To me, there's a difference between being commissioning (sp) and directly working for.

You don't really work directly for, let's say, the idea of time (Dali's Persistence of Memory). You can however work directly for Timex (keeps a licking and keeps on ticking).

Casey Brewer said...

As a writer, I always strive to make work float in that same stratosphere as fine art. Whether it works or not is another story entirely. Sometimes though, the attempt leads one off strategy and the purpose for the ad in the first place.

I think it's incredibly important for ad people to have a finite understanding of art, and even be artists themselves in some way, shape or form. It only adds more depth to the work when you have such a background and ability to think organically.

Brock Johnson said...

Henry VII was the client. The art had to be up to his specifications - perpetuating a certain message. Therefore the artists WERE working for him, yet producing what we would all call "art." If the King didn't like it, he'd hire someone else.

People order customized pieces from artists all the time. I disagree that just because your intent is to sell something, it loses its artistic integrity.

Also, Im not talking about just throwing a photo of Ansel Adams on an ad and calling it art. I'm talking about an art director reading a brief and then creating an illustration or taking a photo that perpetuatues the message using his unique perspective.

So a wonderfully unique and abstract illustration of a guy eating a Milky Way is only art, if its not an ad?

Redesigning logos, taking gorgeous product shots, writing poetry-like copy or telling an amazing story of the brand. These are forms of art that now forfeit what they are - art- just because of a specific endorsement?

Brock Johnson said...

The best example of advertising as art I can think of right now is the "My Goodness, My Guinness," posters.


Anonymous said...

If Henry VIII didn't like the work I think he killed you, talk about pressure.

americanmidwestsamurai said...

I'm beating this point to death, but having art and being art are two different things.

Maybe what the painters painted for Henry wasn't art.

Brock Johnson said...

Your point is understood, I just disagree. Respectfully, of course.

At the risk of sounding like a huge fucking dork, I think you'd be hard pressed to find someone that thought Hans Holbein the Younger wasn't producing art.